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The planetary science community is in an uproar over the Obama administration’s proposed restructuring and possible budget cuts to NASA’s planetary research program.
Though the Obama administration has been consistently hostile to the planetary program, attempting to cut it severely several years in a row, and though I generally have found these particular cuts to be short-sighted, in this case the article is not very clear about the cuts NASA is proposing. It appears they are going to eliminate for one year the general research fund. I suspect there is waste in this budget, but I also suspect that this is a meat cleaver approach that has not been thought out well, as suggested in the article.
One quote from the article reinforces the foolishness of these management decisions:
Next year, a high-level NASA review is likely to have to decide between shutting down either the Mars Curiosity rover or the Cassini mission to Saturn. Both are successful missions that cost around $60 million a year, a level that Green has said the division simply cannot afford for the long term.
Talk about penny wise, pound foolish. The cost to get these probes to their destination was in the billion dollar range, each. To shut them down when they are working and cost relatively so little now is beyond stupid.
As I have written repeatedly, we have a big federal deficit. We need to cut, and I think NASA’s budget can be cut. It just makes no sense to cut planetary research, when there are other portions of that budget that are accomplishing little and cost far more.